A heavy snow brings on 1,200 shovelers assisted by an
array of motor and horse-drawn plows, sweepers and trucks. Earning 55¢ an hour,
they dumped snow down sewers, into the river, and onto empty lots. As volunteers
were easier to recruit in older communities, snow is first cleared in Long Island
City. Although the #7 Line still ran even when the trolleys stopped, a train
that left Grand Central at 11 PM staggered into Flushing by 8 AM the following
In spite of efforts by the police to keep it secret, it became known that the home, in Forest Hills, of Helen Keller, the blind girl, was entered and ransacked. Many priceless articles, and goods to the value of $5,000 were stolen. The perpetrators entered the house on a weekend, when Ms. Keller and the other occupants were out of town. The police reported that the robbers were master crooks in that they only stole articles of value. This was the fourth time the house had been robbed since Ms. Keller had occupied it. The crime was even more despicable as Miss Keller, who courageously overcame the twin handicaps of losing her sight and hearing, remained a popular celebrity throughout her life. The acclaimed film ‘The Miracle Worker” was based on her biorgrpahy.
April 24, 1923
Elmhurst was in a state of excitement when someone lit a flaming cross on a hill overlooking the community. The Knights of Columbus claimed the cross-burning was the work of the Ku Klux Klan. The wooden cross was about ten feet tall. A crowd watching the blaze expected a hooded mob on horseback to arrive, but none came. Police believed that some boys had set up the cross, but the Knights were adamant that this was a demonstration for their benefit. A similar incident had occurred recently in Richmond Hill during a meeting of the Knights. For a few years in the 1920s, the Klan was a visible presence on Long Island and elsewhere in the nation.
September 11, 1923
Queens residents were treated to the appearance of the giant Navy Zeppelin ZR-1 (Zeppelin Rigid) named the Shenandoah, as it floated over northern Queens, down the East River and across the harbor, where ships extended a noisy greeting of whistle blasts. The sight was a first for most Queens residents, who had never seen a dirigible before. The airship was built by the Navy at Lakehurst, New Jersey and was the world’s largest rigid dirigible. Tragically, she crashed in a storm in Ohio in 1925, with the loss of 14 of her crew.
A 75 mph gale hits Queens. Trees and poles are downed and floods block
highways. The temperature ominously climbs 15 degrees in 2 hours. The storm
dumps over 3 inches of rain. Although only four people are hurt, damaged boats
of every description litter Queen's North Shore. Old timers who lived 50 years
on the water claimed never to have seen such damage.
The New York State Assembly had passed and the Senate was near passage of a law, which extended licensing for automobile drivers statewide. Before only drivers in first class cities were required to take a licensing test before operating their cars. The law contained something additional even for already licensed drivers in Queens. A license could be revoked or suspended by a magistrate or other official without a court trial. Some of the offenses that would lead to loss of a license were driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, physical or mental disability and conviction of a felony.
The Benevolent & Protective Order of the Elks launches
their clubhouse on Queens Blvd in Elmhurst. Nearly 3,000 men make their way
past the massive bronze elk that guards the portals, some members traveling
from distant cities to participate in the colorful and impressive ceremonies
formally opening the building. That evening, the club initiates over 100 new
March 3, 1925
The ferry from Hunters Point, Queens, to Manhattan's 34th Street,
was shut down by the LIRR. Since the opening of the Queensborough Bridge (1909), the
LIRR's Penn tubes (1910), and the East River subway (1915), ferry service was deemed
unprofitable. Although Long Island City owed its very existence as a transportation
hub between the LIRR and the ferry, the boats, considered at the time obsolete and
slow, were unceremoniously discarded.
June 24, 1925
The first surveying for the construction of a massive bridge connecting Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens was done at 125th Street in Harlem. The event was cause for a celebration called ‘Tri-borough Bridge Day.’ A luncheon was held at the Hotel Theresa at Seventh Avenue and 125th Street, followed by a parade from the hotel to a speakers’ platform at First Avenue and 125th Street. Among the speakers was Mayor John Hylan, who promised to find a way to finance the project, which was estimated to cost $30,000,000. (The Triborough Bridge opened 11 years later in 1936.)
October 23, 1925
The Flushing Line, now the #7 Train, reached 111th Street
in Corona. It reached Main Street in Flushing in 1928.
Borough Presidents Maurice Connolly of Queens and Julius Miller of Manhattan sent a letter to the Board of Estimate, proposing an East River tunnel to relieve congestion on the Queensboro Bridge. The original plan was to have portals at thirty-eighth street in Manhattan, Borden Avenue in Queens, and beyond to Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The project cost was projected to be $40,000,000 with an option to extend it to Tenth Avenue on the West Side if Manhattan for an additional $16,000,000. (As with many New York City transportation projects, this idea, in a different form, was not implemented until years later, when the Queens-Midtown Tunnel opened in 1940.)
August 3, 1926
Anthony Dominick Benedetto was born in Astoria. Mr. Benedetto,
better known as Tony Bennett, is famous for such musical hits as 1962's "I
Left My Heart In San Francisco." Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole influenced
his easy and natural style. While working with Pearl Bailey, he met Bob Hope,
who suggested he change his name from his then stage name, Joe Bari.
January 21, 1928
The IRT (Interboro Rapid Transit) Number 7 elevated line reached
Main Street, Flushing. Parades with floats and speeches took place in both Manhattan
and Flushing to celebrate the completion of the line. The price seemed to be right
for most people, who rode from downtown Flushing to Grand Central Terminal and Times
Square for only a nickel (5 cents). Dignitaries and commoners made the first
Manhattan to Flushing run but NYC Mayor Jimmy Walker missed the train.
May 12, 1928
Burt Bacharach was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He became one of the most famous American composers of the twentieth century. Among his well-known works, written during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, were: “Magic Moments,” “The Look of Love,” “What’s New Pussycat,” and many others. He moved to Kew Gardens at the age of four. In high school, he and classmates from Forest Hills High School, from which he graduated in 1946, played in a ten-piece band.
September 20, 1928
Joyce Diane Bauer was born. The famed television celebrity psychologist and motivational speaker, better known as Dr. Joyce Brothers, went to high school in the Rockways. The Cornell grad first attracted public attention in the 1950s when won several times on that era's wildly popular TV game show, "The $64,000 Question." A notable quote: "In each of us are places where we have never gone. Only by pressing the limits do you ever find them."
December 12, 1928
Lewis Latimer, the African-American inventor and resident
of Flushing died. A former assistant of Thomas Edison, Mr. Latimer was famous
for expanding upon the Edison light bulb. As a patent clerk he helped Alexander
Graham Bell with his telephone patent. Later he created and patented a carbon
filament for the light bulb, which is still in use today. The Edison Electric
Company's first black executive, Mr. Latimer supervised street light installation
in New York City, Philadelphia, Montreal, and London, England. He lived in a
house at 64 Holly Avenue in Flushing from 1908 to 1928. The house still exists
and was moved to Leavitt and 137th Streets.
October 24, 1929
The Air Service Division was established at Glenn Curtiss
Airport (Later LaGuardia Airport) by the NYPD. The future Aviation Unit, beginning
with four flying boats, 12 pilots, and 24 mechanics, was created primarily to
stop daredevil stunt pilots. Their responsibilities expanded with the growth
of commercial and recreational aviation. The nation's first air unit abandoned
fixed wing aircraft in 1954 for helicopters.
November 11, 1929
72,000 vehicles crossed the Queensboro Bridge during a 24-hour period. This was slightly less than 40 times the number that had crossed in 1910 on the same date. When the bridge opened a year early, in 1909, it averaged less than 75 vehicles an hour!